The City Council is holding a work session next month to discuss a proposed economic development incentive policy.

The council was expected to pass the new policy at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16, until Councilmember Sharon Hightower brought up a new requirement that the council had not considered during its three work sessions on economic development in November and December.

Hightower suggested that an additional requirement be added to businesses applying for economic incentives that were going to locate in one of the two Economic Impact Zones. Hightower proposed that those companies be required to hire 10 percent of their workforce from the Economic Impact Zones. 

Hightower’s proposal received immediate support with Mayor Nancy Vaughan saying, “We don’t want to do all the economic incentives and have them hire people from High Point and Burlington.”

Vaughan added, “Maybe 10 percent is not high enough.”

Hightower then suggested 30 percent, 40 percent or even 50 percent.

However, the proposal does not have universal support on City Council.

Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “I don’t see how we can require that of companies when the city doesn’t require that of itself.”

Speaking of city employees, Abuzuaiter said, “We have people who live in Thomasville, Denton, Rockingham County, Alamance County. We have people who live all over.”

She noted that the city had no residency requirements for regular employees.

City department heads are supposed to live in Guilford County, but the City Council has allowed employees who live in adjacent counties to continue to live there after being promoted to department head.

Chuck Watts, who has been city attorney since June 2019, only recently moved from Durham to Greensboro.

Abuzuaiter noted that one of the issues that has been raised when the City Council has discussed providing police officers with take-home cars is the limited number of officers who live in the City of Greensboro.

Councilmember Justin Outling has also expressed concern over placing additional requirements on companies that consider locating in an Economic Impact Zone.  Outling said that such an additional requirement could be “counterproductive.”